“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. “ — Arthur Golden
First the rain came in sheets, then the wind. I could hear my trash cans being battered by it. The house being buffered by it. In the early morning, just after dawn, I was out picking up the carefully broken down cardboard, and aluminum cans and newspapers that had spread across my lawn in the night. I found a sheltered spot, by the burning bush and firmly pushed the can and blue bin into the snow, it still rests safely there this afternoon.
I had a crazy dream last night, a recurring one, in which my community is being overrun by a fierce monster, sometimes a T-Rex, a behemoth that I cannot see, but I hear it and know it means danger. Last night it was some combination of a T-Rex, Robot, and Alien (the one from the series of movies with Sigourney Weaver) that had a blood sucking appendage. I ran this time, sometimes I stay behind to fight or die, or hide, but this time I ran. I ran along a deserted road until I came to a swampy area, I saw a fox and then somehow ended up in the water with the fox grabbing onto me desperately, pawing me and wrapping his forelegs around me so he wouldn’t drown. A man I knew from the town came along on a bike and he stood on the brief shoulder of the country road giving me advice, but not actually helping me. Escaped from the danger of a building crushing, blood sucking monster only to be nearly drowned by a mangy fox, and the only help forthcoming from any man is words and no physical assistance, typical of my life.
As I drove into the windy morning, the grey clouds were flying across the sky and impossibly big bold patches of blue bursting through. Somehow this started my mind on thinking about overcoming adversity, and in surviving against challenging obstacles. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. They say that you are given spiritual obstacles in order to grow in strength. They say that life’s difficulties should make us better, not bitter. I don’t know why this popped into my head, maybe the stormy day, maybe the dream of survival against the biggest of obstacles, the craziest of circumstances. But there it was.
How much of a challenge this life can be sometimes, and yet I realized that I was really lucky in one way. I am strong, I have pulled myself through some really difficult things, and I have carried my daughter a long way by myself. I think sometimes the greatest weakness is also the greatest strength. I go into the last half of my life, sometimes fearful of the spider belly alone, sometimes angry about the scorpion tailed past, sometimes nostalgic for the cotton candy taste of the good times. I marvel at women who won’t drive in the snow, whose husbands and cousins deliver them on terrible days. I marvel at people who have rides and hand holders at serious medical appointments, and women who say “I shouldn’t have to work, that is my husbands responsibility.” I find myself confused when a woman’s husband dies and they have to have relatives stay with them, because they don’t know what to do, women who have never driven, or paid a bill in all their lives. I cannot fathom how a person could be like this, how do they survive? How on earth do they make it through the hard times, how do they face the dark and vast alone, that belly shaped cave full of spiders?
Sometimes I do wish someone would not just give me advice from the side of the road, that I wouldn’t have to run from the scary monsters by myself, but that someone would take my hand and run with me, and jump in to pull the mangy fox off my back. But only sometimes. Today I am so thankful, not just that I am strong enough to survive scary robot alien T-rex creature, and mangy drowning foxes, but also that I know I am.